Spirit of Denial by Kate Danley - Read Online
Spirit of Denial
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Summary

In this sequel to A Spirited Manor, Clara O'Hare and Wesley Lowenherz learn that the phantasm set free at Lord Oroberg's seance is just the beginning.  An ancient Egyptian curse has been unleashed by feuding archaeologists and everyone will be digging an early grave unless they contain this spirit of the Nile.

Published: Katherine Danley on
ISBN: 9781497730441
List price: $2.99
Availability for Spirit of Denial: O'Hare House Mysteries, #2
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Spirit of Denial - Kate Danley

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SERIES

THE O'HARE HOUSE MYSTERY SERIES

A Spirited Manor

Spirit of Denial

Distilled Spirits

In High Spirits

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With great thanks

My power group gals

Carolyn Wilson

Diana Costa

Karen McQuestion

Kay Bratt

And a special thanks to

George Edward Stanhope Molyneaux

and

the Mummy of Katebet

Chapter One

Mr. Willard? Clara asked with great curiosity.  Forgive me for being so forward, but are you deceased?

The tall, balding butler stood in the hallway with Clara, the clock loudly ticking away the moments as he tried to frame his response.

Finally, Clara motioned to the parlor with its pale green walls and comfortable chairs.  Perhaps you and I should sit down to discuss this matter.

Mr. Willard bowed and politely suggested in his low, gravelly voice, Let me call for Mrs. Nan.  I believe this is a conversation best had with all present.

Clara shook her head, bemused.  His evasion answered her question even better than a confession.  The pieces are beginning to come together, Mr. Willard, Clara replied.  She removed her black bonnet from her bright, red hair, took off her gloves, finger-by-finger, and placed them on the carved hall table of dark wood.  Very well.  I shall wait for you inside.  Please join me as soon as you have gathered Mrs. Nan.  No disappearing on me! she jested.

Mr. Willard seemed unsure of the best response, so he just turned on his heel and went up the walnut staircase in search of Mrs. Nan.  Clara strolled slowly across the entry's black and white octagon tile and into the parlor to wait.

She looked around her home, wondering how the world could have become so completely different in just a few short days.  If it were true, if her servants were, indeed, ghosts, well... strangely it would be one of the less surprising bits of information she had received since moving into this dear little house on the square.  So many secrets, she whispered to the house, placing her hand upon the door jam.  So many mysteries hidden here.  If only your walls could talk.

There was a thrum of energy that raced through her hand, like the thrill of a lovely memory or the warm wash of happiness.  She could hardly imagine it was anything but her mind playing tricks on her.  Still, she patted the wall gently before going over to the couch to wait for Mrs. Nan and Mr. Willard.

She decided she should be stern about their deceit.  Whether the lies of omission were about supernatural events or not, she was mistress of the house and could not have her servants, even if they were dead, telling falsehoods.

She started to laugh.  Who was she fooling?

Not three minutes went by before both servants entered the room.  Mrs. Nan smoothed her gray-peppered hair nervously and straightened the apron of her uniform. 

Clara folded her hands on her lap and tried to frown.  Well, what have you both to say for yourself?

Mr. Willard and Mrs. Nan exchanged nervous glances.  Finally, Mrs. Nan broke the silence, her voice rushing out, We were going to tell you, but the opportunity had not yet risen.

Really?  It seems like rising from the dead is reason enough to inform me that you are deceased, Clara replied.

Now, that was a long time ago... Mrs. Nan tried to explain.

Mr. Willard cleared his throat.  What Mrs. Nan is trying to say is that we have been here in this house for a long time.  It seemed prudent to judge your character before we confided in you.

Clara tilted her chin proudly.  And what judgment have you made of my character?

A very, very good character indeed! Mrs. Nan replied.

Clara smiled, unable to keep up the facade.  My dear Mrs. Nan and Mr. Willard.  Of course you needed to ascertain my character before we could have this discussion.  But you and I are now family.  We live beneath this roof and you shall get to know me better than any living soul... she paused.  The pun was unintended.

But quite appropriate, assured Mr. Willard.

Quite, Mrs. Nan added on.

What happened?  How did it come to be that you are deceased? Clara asked with concern, motioning to them that they should both sit.  The look upon their face indicated her request to take a chair was borderline blasphemy, but Clara remained insistent.  Such intimate conversations should be between friends, not masters and servants, she thought to herself.

It happened so many years ago, said Mr. Willard.  His face became a blank as he thought back to that day.  Fifteen years or so.  I looked into my mirror and saw a dark figure.  A woman or girl I believe.  And that was all.  The next day, everyone in the house behaved as if they couldn't see me.

It was the same with me, Mrs. Nan continued.  That same figure.  That same girl, or woman...  I wish I could remember more.  The next day, the house was in an uproar, saying that there had been a grisly murder, three servants killed in cold blood, found dead upon the floor of their rooms with their throats torn out.  It was at that moment that both Mr. Willard and I realized that we did not survive.

Perhaps I am a coward for saying this, said Mr. Willard, but I am glad my memory stops with the face in the mirror.

Not a coward at all, said Mrs. Nan, reaching over to pat his hand bracingly.

So just the three of you? said Clara, thinking to the thrill she felt when she touched the walls of the house.  You two and Wesley's older sister, Minnie?

Mr. Willard nodded.  Yes.  Lord Oroberg was struggling at the time and kept a small household.  We were honored to serve, but Minnie... well, she always had a more difficult time than us, very much caught between worlds, both in life and death.

’Tis true, said Mrs. Nan.  That poor, sweet child didn't even know what happened.  For someone who did not wish to be here much in the first place, she suddenly found herself trapped here with us forever.  I don't mean to speak ill of her.  She was an orphan and forced to leave her ten-year old brother in the workhouse.  She wanted nothing but to take care of him and you could see in her eyes that even though she was living here in comfort, her heart was always with him.

Clara could hardly believe this was the childhood of her confident, well-refined hero.  Her Wesley.  An orphan working in the factories in abject poverty?  To have been robbed of his parents, and then of his sister?  It was a wonder he survived.  But all she said was, I had the pleasure of making her brother's acquaintance this weekend.  He was the man who walked me to the door.  Wesley Lowenherz.

Mrs. Nan and Mr. Willard nodded at one another in approval.  He is a fine looking lad, said Mrs. Nan.  Quite worthy of his sister's devotion.  I wish we could have said hello.

Clara stopped her.  We have had guests at the house before, said Clara thinking of Violet Nero who had sat in the very parlor they were now all seated.  How was it that they could see you and Mr. Lowenherz could not?

Mrs. Nan looked around the room.  This house here on the square holds a power, Clara, a power that we may never understand.  It has gotten stronger since you came.  There were families which lived here before, but we were shadows.  There is something about you which changes things.  We knew it from the moment you crossed the threshold and were able to see us.  For the first time in fifteen years, someone could see us!  We learned while you were gone, though, that when you are not sleeping beneath this roof, we fade until you return.

I shall never lay my head anywhere else again! exclaimed Clara, distressed.  I had no idea!  If I had known, I would have told the police to hurry their questioning earlier so that I could have returned to free you.  I am so sorry.

Now, duck, don't you make such foolish promises.  It is not painful.  We are just... restless... and without purpose without you here.  We just fade.  Why, while you were gone, Minnie disappeared completely!

But Minnie was not here! said Clara.  She was with me.  She was, in fact, responsible for saving my and her brother’s life.

What? said Mrs. Nan and Mr. Willard in unison.

Whatever happened out in that horrible manor? asked Mrs. Nan.  "Here we have